This week players head to Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina for the RBC Heritage. What is normally a mid-level tournament with a few of the world’s top 20 players, this year the RBC Heritage field is absolutely stacked.
15 of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking will be in attendance making this the 2nd straight week fans are given an incredible field.
Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele are just a few of the names making the trip from Texas to South Carolina.
Rickie Hatton, fresh off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and week to week favorite and THE PLAYERS First Round Leader Hedeki Matsuama are two more from the top 20 in the world teeing it up this week and both will be making their post-suspension debuts at a track that values approach play above all else.
But before we breakdown Harbour Town, let’s quickly recap an incredible week at the Charles Schwab.
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The PGA Tour was back with a bang last week and we could not have asked for a better four days of golf. What an incredible event from start to finish. We were given a star-studded Sunday leaderboard, drama down the stretch with missed 4 and 5 footers, and finally a playoff win after a week of watching one of the best non-major fields of the year.
Ultimately it was Daniel Berger besting my son Colin Morikawa on the first playoff hole to take home the victory. Morikawa had a 5 footer on 18 for not only the victory but more importantly my 5th straight Outright bet dating back to pre COVID.
He missed the putt left then proceeded to miss a similar putt in the playoff.
Xander missed a short one on 17 that would have kept him with the leaders and Bryson airmailed it on the same hole, which resulted in a bogey, to dash his chances. I took the most away from Bryson’s performance.
While the rest at the top of the market, namely Rory, Rahm, and JT uncharacteristically struggled with different aspects of their game, Bryson was dialed all week.
He has absolutely found a new weapon with his revamped driver. The guy has multiple PGA Tour wins, an NCAA individual title, and a US Amateur victory and has added 30 yards?! Lookout.
Overall it was an incredibly profitable week and a Morikawa putt on 18 would have made it one of the most profitable I have ever had.
With that said, H2Hs went 4-3 including a 2u cash and round by round bets were profitable each day including a 10 unit Thursday. ONTO HARBOUR TOWN!
The Pete Dye designed Harbour Town Golf Links plays exactly like every Dye design we see: tight tee shots with difficult sightlines and small, crowned greens. The Par 71, 7100 yard course is a difficult test and typically rewards the more plodding type player.
CT Pan, one of the shortest off the tee on tour, continued this tradition with his win last year and past winners include absolute bunters like Matt Kuchar, Wesley Bryan, and Jim Furyk (twice).
Harbour Town is annually one of the hardest stops the Tour makes, consistently ranking in the top 10 in course difficulty. However, there are instances where we have seen scores in the mid teens under par due to a lack of wind and watered greens.
This looks to be the case for this rendition as the forecast is only calling for 10pmh winds in the afternoons that will just annoy the leaders coming down the stretch on Sunday and should allow for players to put up low scores early in the morning each day.
While Harbour Town is located on the South Carolina Coast, it plays differently than most coastal courses. Rather than a wide open design with ocean views, Harbour Town features tree lined fairways and doglegged Par 4s.
Some Of the Smallest Greens On Tour
Off the tee Harbour Town is a prototypical less than driver course with players averaging almost 20 yards less off the tee here than the Tour average. Players will typically opt for irons from the tee with the goal of perfect positioning into some of the smallest greens on Tour.
However, the bombers like Bryson, Rory, and Rahm usually avoid this course during a normal PGA Tour season so we don’t have much of a sample of what happens when the longer guys play Harbour Town.
It will be interesting to see their approach to driving the ball after absolutely bombing it all over a comparably tight Colonial Country Club last week.
I will not be quick to discount the Bombers this week. Consider this: if a player is taking an iron off the tee, would he rather hit 5 or 6 iron for perfect position? These bombers are also some of the longest iron players on Tour, which allows them to take less club to achieve the same positioning result as the shorter hitters who usually have an advantage here.
The battle is only halfway done when players find the fairway off the tee. Their approach shots will be into some of the smallest greens on tour. Look for even the best iron players to miss a ton of greens this week.
The difficulty is caused by the fact that Harbour Town greens are crowned, meaning any wayward shot will shoot off the green into what is normally gnarly bermuda rough. This is a trademark of any Pete Dye design which puts an emphasis on scrambling if players aren’t precise with their approaches.
Bermuda Grass Greens
Once on the surface guys will be looking at pure Bermuda grass greens with plenty of undulation. Growing up on the West Coast, I personally hate putting on Bermuda as it isn’t prevalent here. It goes dormant with any kind of winter weather, which is why it is predominately found in the South.
Bermuda requires an extra read as the grain of the grass can oftentimes manipulate the path of the ball. It also doesn’t take much water which can allow the course management to bake them out.
If organizers decide to do this since the wind is likely not a factor, we could be looking at afternoon blood baths as players will be unable to hold the ball on these small greens on approach and are then faced with quick, undulating putts on already difficult to read surfaces.
With all of this considered, I’m looking at strong approach guys who can find the fairway with less than driver off the tee. I will factor in around the green game as players will inevitably miss these hard to hit greens and lean slightly to those who prefer putting on Bermuda above any other surface.
Gary Woodland +4000 MyBookie.ag
This number is outrageous. If the RBC Heritage turns into an iron striking competition with everyone taking less than driver off the tee putting them all in basically the same spot, I want the guy who led the field in approach last week gaining almost 9 strokes on the field in the category.
The 2019 US Open Champ was in the midst of a monster start to the 2019/20 season with 6 top 12 or better showings in 8 events including 8th the last we saw him pre-COVID at the Honda where he gained over 7 strokes on approach.
I also love the fact he clearly wasn’t sitting around during the suspension. Instead he dedicated himself to losing 20lbs which he believes will help his stamina in what is going to be a grueling stretch of golf over the next 4 months.
Here is the thing though, Gary has always been an elite ball striker. It is the flat stick that hindered his success during his years on Tour.
My favorite part of his performance last week? He gained 3.6 strokes putting and has become an all around solid putter, gaining in the category in 5 out of his last 6 events.
Hopefully he gets that patented stinger going, pounds fairways and lets his approach game keep him near the top of the leaderboard. Considering his skill set and fit on this course, 40/1 for the reigning US Open Champ is a gimmie. I’m starting my card with Gary.
Sungjae Im +3300 at Bovada.lv
Golf’s Terminator. Sungjae is a machine, plays every single damn week and there is no way he took a second off during the suspension. I absolutely love what he did last week.
A ho hum T10 with absolutely no fanfare. Did we see a weekend shot? Im managed to gain strokes in every single major category last week, an all around solid performance.
Consistancy is nothing new to Im though. He has missed one cut since The Open Championship last year and has 5 tournaments in that same span where he gained strokes in every major category. That is insane.
He followed up his first career win at the Honda with a 3rd at Arnie’s Tournament before the COVID suspension and when combined with his performance last week we are looking at the best three tournament stretch of his career.
What puts Im over the top for me this week is he checks the final box: Bermuda is where he has displayed his best putting. He gains 1.5x strokes putting per round on Bermunda when compared to Poa and 2x the strokes per round when compared to his putting on Bent.
His ability to score in any manner is perfect for this week. Last week he simply plodded his way around for 3 days, doing nothing spectacular but nothing poorly.
That makes his floor insanely high. If he can get hot with any facet of his game, be it approach, around the green or with the putter, all of which he is perfectly capable of lighting on fire, Im will be there on Sunday.
Corey Conners Top 20 +350 at BetOnline.ag
Conners follows the trend of if we are going to turn this thing into a ball striking competition, lets load up on the best ball strikers. The Canadian has lost a full stroke or more on approach ONE TIME in a year. That is 22 tournaments of above average iron play. That span includes gaining 11.6 strokes on approach en route to his win last year at the Valero Texas Open. 11.6 SG:APP!
I have to give the bad along with the good though. There are many tournaments where Corey putts like he has never seen a putter before.
That is just a fact. He has lost strokes in the category in 9 of his last 11 starts. HOWEVER! He somehow managed to gain 3.2 putting last week at Colonial. Maybe he put in an insane amount of shortwork game over the break? Maybe that was a complete anomaly? No one really knows, but it is nice to know that Conners loses the fewest strokes on Bermuda greens.
Thankfully, just a pure ball striking performance can cash a top 20 bet for Corey. He is rarely in trouble due to his suburb iron game, taking big numbers out of the equation.
I will also have an Outright bet on him given his inflated number, but this Top 20 number is just wrong considering his iron play prowess and the demand for that skill at Harbour Town.
That is it for this week’s write up. As always, look for my full card on Wednesday Morning @jmazzjd on Twitter and feel free to reach out to me with any questions on the same handle throughout the week.
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